Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tehran dresses down some random Swiss Diplomat because of what Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote

It is funny to see Iran summon the Swiss ambassador to complain about a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. The Swiss, much less the Swiss Federal Department of Federal Affairs (their equivalent to the U.S. State Department), have nothing to do with the United States court system.

When governments are pissed off at each other, one of the ways they express their anger is to summon the other country's ambassador to yell at them. It is a little silly, but that is one traditional way for governments to express their displeasure to another government.

The problem in this case is that the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran. There is no U.S. ambassador in Tehran. In such an ambassador's absence, the Swiss government has agreed to act as an intermediary for the U.S. government in Iran and to provide basic consular services for U.S. citizens in Iran through the foreign interest section of its embassy in Tehran. That leaves the Swiss ambassador to Iran the best stand-in for a U.S. ambassador if Tehran is looking for someone to yell at.

Still, I imagine the yelling could not have been completely satisfying. The Iranians are (to some extent understandably) upset that the U.S. law that will allow their assets to be seized has been upheld, so they want to exercise their right under diplomatic protocol to rant and rave at someone. But instead of a representative of the actual subject of their ire, the world's sole remaining superpower, they have to resort to a representative of a small European alpine nation that has long prided itself at being as inoffensive as possible for pretty much everyone. (Well, everyone except Libyan dictators). As he was being dressed down by the Iranians, I wonder what was going through that Swiss diplomat's head,